Inferior Thyroid Artery

Written by Emily West

Last updated June 20, 2024 • 7 Revisions

The inferior thyroid artery is an artery of the anterolateral neck. It is the largest branch of the thyrocervical trunk, and the dominant blood supply to the neck.

It supplies the thyroid gland and surrounding structures in the neck.

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Course

The inferior thyroid artery arises from the thyrocervical trunk at the root of the neck.

It initially ascends along the surface of the scalenus anterior muscle. At the transverse process of the sixth cervical vertebrae, the vessel turns medially to head towards the thyroid gland.

The inferior thyroid artery continues its medial course, passing anterior to the vertebral artery and posterior to the carotid sheath.

At the level of the cricoid cartilage, the inferior thyroid artery penetrates the capsule of the thyroid gland on its posterior surface.

Fig 1
The inferior thyroid artery arises from the thyrocervical trunk.

Branches and Supply

The inferior thyroid artery supplies structures in the neck via numerous branches:

  • Ascending cervical artery – supplies the deep neck muscles and forms an anastomotic network which branches of the vertebral artery.
  • Inferior laryngeal artery – supplies the laryngeal muscles and laryngeal mucosa.
  • Muscular branches – supplies the infrahyoid muscles longus colli, scalenus anterior, and inferior pharyngeal constrictor.

In addition, pharyngeal branches supply the pharynx, oesophagus, trachea, thyroid and parathyroid glands.